TEE TO GREEN

Plenty of places to golf this winter

What’s open, what’s closed and what it means for Central Oregon courses

Kevin Duke

Winter course guide

A list of Central Oregon courses and schedules for winter. Check with golf shops for rates and more information.

Public courses

Aspen Lakes Golf Course: Open Thursdays through Sundays, weather permitting

Black Butte Ranch (Big Meadow, Glaze Meadow): Closed Nov. 8

Crooked River Ranch: Open weather permitting

Desert Peaks Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Eagle Crest (Ridge, Challenge): Open weather permitting

The Greens at Redmond: Open weather permitting

Juniper Golf Course: Open weather permitting

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort: Open weather permitting

Lost Tracks Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Meadow Lakes Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Old Back Nine at Mountain High: Closed Nov. 1

Pronghorn Club (Nicklaus): Open weather permitting

Quail Run Golf Course: Closes Nov. 30

River’s Edge Golf Course: Open weather permitting

Smith Rock Golf Course: Open weather permitting

Sunriver Resort (Woodlands): Open weather permitting

Tetherow Golf Club: Closed Nov. 1

Widgi Creek Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Private courses

Awbrey Glen Golf Club: Closes Nov. 30

Bend Golf and Country Club: Open weather permitting

Brasada Ranch Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Broken Top Club: Open weather permitting

Prineville Golf Club: Open weather permitting

Pronghorn Club (Fazio): Open weather permitting

If you can stand the cold, golf courses in Central Oregon can stand the play.

Last winter’s mild temperatures and scant snow in the region allowed many area courses to open earlier than normal this past spring, which made for an exceptionally long golf season.

What happens this year remains to be seen. But for many courses, if they can be open, they will be.

Last winter

Depending on the location of the course, reports were that Central Oregon tracks were closed anywhere from a dozen or so days to about 40 days last winter.

In Bend, River’s Edge was closed the fewest days, only 16 for the whole winter. That is about the norm, according to head golf professional Troy Eckberg.

“It’s been the same about the last five years, we have little stretches,” Eckberg said. “Our business is usually fairly strong in the wintertime, because we are one of the few that stay open for most of the winter.”

Widgi Creek, on the other hand, was closed from Thanksgiving through January.

“We’re at 4,100 feet and had snow mostly on the course during that time frame,” said general manager Brad Hudspeth. “Between the snow and ice, we weren’t playable last year.”

Lost Tracks was closed for just two weeks, once for a week in November and again in January, with the two significant snowstorms in the Bend area last winter.

Eagle Crest, The Greens at Redmond and Juniper in Redmond reported longer stretches of closure, from 30 to 40 days. The snowstorm in November dumped significantly more snow on those courses than on the courses in Bend.

“We got close to 4 feet of snow in November,” said Michael Shipley, general manager of The Greens at Redmond. He added that into the month of January, the course “pretty much stayed closed.”

To the east, Meadow Lakes in Prineville was closed about a dozen days last winter, and Brasada Ranch reported being closed about 10 days. To the north and west, Crooked River Ranch had snow on the course for about 40 days, and Aspen Lakes was closed about a month.

“We ended up with 3 feet of snow,” said Rob Malone, the head golf professional at Aspen Lakes. “It was a whole lot more snow than some of the other courses, which is unusual. Normally we get 3 to 6 inches and it melts off after a week, then we are able to open back up again.”

The course’s location, just outside of Sisters on the eastern flanks of the Cascade Range, normally precludes such a significant snow event, he said.

“The systems that come in the typical pattern from the northwest put us in the snow shadow,” Malone explained. “Most of the moisture gets lost as it comes over the pass.”

Open and closed

Of the public courses in Bend, Lost Tracks and River’s Edge are likely the best bets to be open latest into the winter, although Widgi Creek will be open as long as possible too. The Old Back Nine at Mountain High closed for the season at the beginning of this month.

“We are still running as if it’s summertime business,” said Eckberg at River’s Edge. “The end of October through the end of February is usually fairly busy, that’s the reason why we stay open.”

As far as the private clubs in Bend, Bend Golf and Country Club will be open weather permitting, with a usual shotgun start at 11 a.m.

Broken Top will stay open for members as long as there is no snow on the ground, but with temporary greens and carts on the paths only as of Nov. 10.

“As long as the course is pretty much snow-free, we allow members to head out and play,” said Josh Hanson, the head golf professional at Broken Top.

Awbrey Glen will close Nov. 30 but will keep its Loop course and driving range open for members, as well as six holes on the course with temporary greens.

Tetherow closed Nov. 1, but will keep the golf shop, practice facility, range and learning academy open for the winter.

Additionally, the public courses to the north and east of Bend — Meadow Lakes, Juniper, Crooked River Ranch, Eagle Crest and The Greens at Redmond — will be open as long as the courses are playable. Brasada Ranch will be open to members and resort guests for the winter, while Pronghorn will be open Wednesdays through Sundays and Prineville Golf Club is open to members and guests, all weather permitting.

“The business is completely determined by the weather,” said Ron Buerger, the director of golf at Eagle Crest. “It’s really weather driven and depends on occupancy rates at the resort. Our numbers spike when we get a good weather window. In bad weather people go skiing, in good weather people play golf.”

Meadow Lakes in Prineville, where winters typically are relatively mild, sees business when other courses in the area are snowed out.

“We stay pretty busy because the other courses are closed,” said Meadow Lakes assistant facilities manager Lori Ontko. “Sometimes we are one of the only courses in the area that’s still open.”

Farther north, Desert Peaks, Smith Rock and Kah-Nee-Ta are also open as long as the weather allows.

To the south of Bend, the Woodlands at Sunriver will stay open as long as the weather permits, while Quail Run outside of La Pine closes at the end of this month.

Outside of Sisters, Aspen Lakes will be open to golfers this winter Thursday through Sunday “unless there is snow on the course,” Malone said.

Black Butte Ranch closed both of its courses, Glaze Meadow and Big Meadow, on Nov. 8, expecting to reopen around April 1.

Green fees are deeply discounted at most of the courses at this time of year, and remember that frost delays are possible and some courses may be playing on temporary greens. Call the pro shops for more information.

— Reporter: 541-617-7868, kduke@bendbulletin.com .

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